Community Notebook: Stanford alumna, Palo Alto resident to head Sempervirens Fund

Shelley Ratay to lead redwood-conservation efforts

Stanford alumna and Palo Alto resident Shelley Ratay has been appointed as Sempervirens Fund's executive director, the board of directors announced Monday, March 16. Ratay will lead the 115-year-old land trust's efforts in protecting local redwood forests and parks. She will start her new position on April 1.

Ratay, who joined Sempervirens Fund as deputy executive director last year, brings to the nonprofit organization a "wealth of conservation, land use and community development experience, combined with a Stanford MBA and a deep commitment to environmental stewardship," a press release states.

Her resume includes stints at Conservation International, The Trust for Public Land, investment management company Beartooth Capital, and First Community Housing, a San Jose-based developer of affordable housing. Ratay is also a founding board member of Legacy Philanthropy Works in Santa Barbara.

"Shelley epitomizes our bright future. She's compassionate, super smart, and has the perfect blend of nonprofit management and conservation experience. Her passion and authenticity bring out the best in people, making her a natural leader," stated Fred Keeley, Sempervirens Fund board president, in a press release.

Ratay is tasked with guiding Sempervirens Fund in achieving its "Great Park" campaign for the Santa Cruz Mountains, which is the organization's vision for a "beautiful, healthy, accessible redwood forest between Silicon Valley and the Pacific Ocean," according to its website; heading current major projects, including the development of a new visitor center at Castle Rock State Park; overseeing the campaign for Santa Cruz Redwoods National Monument; and convening Stewardship 5.0, a regional initiative aimed at bringing diverse land-management stakeholders together to seek large-scale collaborative solutions.

"I'm thrilled to guide Sempervirens Fund during a period of important change, when our organization and land conservation methods in general are evolving to meet new financial and cultural shifts in California that impact our parks," Ratay said in the press release. "It's an honor to work in service of the redwoods, alongside our phenomenal Board and staff, and the incredible community of supporters that make our work possible."

After six years at the nonprofit's helm, current Executive Director Reed Holderman retires at the end of March.

Ratay, who lives in Palo Alto with her husband and two children, has a master's degree in business administration and certificate in public management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an undergraduate degree from Brown University.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


4 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Mar 18, 2015 at 3:56 pm

Sempervirens Fund is an outstanding organization with an ever more important mission. I'm happy to know Sempervirens Fund is now being led by a woman, Good luck Ms. Ratay!

1 person likes this
Posted by Shelley
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 18, 2015 at 11:47 pm

Thank you, Rose, for the well wishes and kind words about Sempervirens Fund. Please feel free to drop by our office and say hello sometime.

1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 20, 2015 at 12:35 am

I love the Sequoia and Redwood trees in Palo Alto ... but recall it used to be oaks.
Palo Alto looks so nice with all the oak trees we used to have - everywhere.

Now these towering giants can cut off light for a block. It's a problem, at least for
some of us, I live just north of a huge one and my front yard rarely sees light. These
are not trees that work well for this area, even if they are magnificent and beautiful trees.

There are good places for them, in parks or where old El Palo Alto used to stand, but
not inside the City or in the residential blocks where some of us want to see some sun
occasionally. I know it is heresy to suggest anything but leave them be, but I wonder if
they can be managed in some reasonable way that will remove them when they get too big?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Nationally renowned Indian restaurant expanding to Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 3 comments | 2,893 views

Summer travel: Is anything changing?
By Sherry Listgarten | 14 comments | 1,303 views

Premarital and Couples: "Our Deepest Fear" by Marianne Williamson
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,156 views

Cap On? Cap Off? Recycling Bottles is Confusing
By Laura Stec | 20 comments | 1,003 views